During the cold months, it seems that I make a chicken nearly every week, either roasting one with vegetables or cooking it in water to make stock for soups and such. Yesterday, I found myself with a chicken but not much else, so I winged it and created what can only be described as “simple chicken and dumplings”. The flavor was mild and comforting. I was lacking parsley, but in the future, I’d snip some into the dumpling dough and maybe onto the dish before serving.
Easy Chicken + Dumplings
For the stew:
One chicken, around three-pounds, or a little more
Two stalks of celery, scrubbed clean and cut into thirds
Two carrots, scrubbed clean and cut in thirds
One large onion, cut in half
One bay leaf
Two more carrots for final stew, peeled and thinly sliced
Poultry seasoning, 3/4 teaspoon
Salt + pepper, to taste
For the dumplings:
Two cups of flour
Four teaspoons of baking powder
One teaspoon of salt
Four tablespoons of canola (or preferred) oil
About 3/4 cup of milk
Fresh parsley, chopped
Put chicken in stock pot with vegetables and bay leaf. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1-1/4 hours or more, until the chicken is done and begins to fall off the bone. Remove the chicken. Use tongs to pick out bones and most of carcass, and put these back into the simmering liquid. Continue to simmer for another 1/2-hour to hour, until the stock is a bit more concentrated and has cooked down some. Remove carcass and pour liquid through a sieve into another pot. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add carrots, stir in seasonings. Add desired amount of cleaned chicken back to the liquid, diced or shredded.
Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add oil and milk and parsley. Mix until a ball of dough forms. Scoop one-tablespoon amounts of dough and drop into liquid. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls and sprinkle with parsley.
[written on Wednesday]
I am hosting a simple Thanksgiving dinner this year. Since Grandma Anderson is coming over, and she is 88, I’m keeping the flavors mild and rather classic. I have had a schedule written out for days, covering what needs to be done at what time from Tuesday through Thursday at noon. I seem to live dangerously when it comes to these events, despite this timeline that I create for myself. I have everything worked out in my head, but I’ll sit looking out the window for too long or see something that I want to buy online, and then I’m suddenly six hours behind, yet the mania of it all makes everything come together beautifully.
I don’t know how that works; I just trust that it’ll all be lovely and I know that I will be thankful for that, as well as every little and big thing in my life.
Thank you, thank you.
[written on Thursday]
Dinner was perfect. I can even link to most of the recipes. (I don’t use one for deviled eggs… or corn.) I roasted a whole 8.26-lb breast with two legs, which were put into the bottom of the pan after one hour. I used the Martha Stewart brining instructions for the turkey, and then followed the turkey gravy recipe for cooking it. The cranberry relish was outstanding. I haven’t tried the pie yet. Grandma and Uncle Tim had pie waiting at home. It’s an easy schmeasy recipe, but I just wanted to have something onhand. The whole meal is simple in flavor and concept, but I wanted something familiar for Grandma.
Thank you, thank you.
Brined + Roasted Turkey Breast
Roasted Turkey Legs
Turkey Gravy + Dressing
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
[the table + cranberry-orange sauce; I guess that is what caught my eye the last two days.]
All weekend, I’ve been keeping notes in my head about little things that I want to log, like recipe suggestions and good times with family and a great site that I found and how all the world is beautiful. Something like that. And then the toxicity of the medications that I am on leave me sleeping on the bathroom floor at night and just wishing that I was a napper during the days.
I will journal what I can when I can. This week, I am going to update that gosh darned recipe page. A few new additions will include the creamy stuffed mushrooms from Food52, onion dip, ranch dip, and, although I fear of spontaneously combusting into flames while typing this, a bacon-chicken appetizer from Paula Deen.
I’ve been hard on Paula Deen. I’m sorry, Paula. It just takes a lot for me to swallow a Georgian accent. Most days I can’t even stand the sound of a radio.
From Monday morning until Friday afternoon, unless I am specifically tuning in for something on the television like, say, Community, I live in almost complete silence. (Friday through Sunday evening? I cringe a lot.) Those weekdays when the moment isn’t silent? Silas and I are tearing it up. Welcome to my home, it’s either a library or a party.
I hope that you have pumped yourself up or quieted yourself down appropriately!
This last Sunday afternoon, I fell asleep on the sofa with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook, open to the “Pot Roast Meatloaf” recipe, as my pillow. I made the meatloaf later that day and it was pretty damned good. The air is taking on an autumn chill and I was in the midst of my first cold in two years, so I didn’t even bother making any sides that day. The tomatoes and bacon and beans that comprise the “meatloaf sauce” were plenty. It was just what I needed at that moment.
I ate the leftovers for breakfast the next day.
In July, I began what shall be known as the SUPER-AWESOME EGG EXPERIMENT OF 2011. Unless it goes into 2012, in which case I will have to rename it. It all began when I started to crave eggs furiously. I tried to take photos of my creations, but mostly that was one big fail because a) frittatas don’t stay puffy while you futz with the camera and b) I was hungry.
Recipes are on my mind as I’m preparing a menu for Saturday, all finger foods for convenience. It’ll be an evening gathering, about the time that I am usually ready to conk out for the night, so everything has to be prepped in the morning or afternoon. My special (why special?!) chilled lattes are a must to keep me from sleeping in the corner under a pile of afghans that I keep at the ready. Food52 is proving to be especially helpful in providing culinary inspiration. It is also proving to make me hungry no matter when I take a look at the site (i.e. after lunch, before bed, while eating breakfast).
Speaking of eating and the like, I need to force myself into some solo routines for when my husband is on the road. Lately, he has been gone Monday through Friday, and all of the weekdays run into one another. [read: he has been at this two months and counting] [also, see: pot roast meatloaf for a Monday breakfast] The meals run into each other too and generally add up to ONE a day.
I am going to challenge myself.
I am going to challenge myself to eat food regularly and from my own home prepared by my own hands and according to my weird self-imposed semi-stringent measure of weights and balances, which is to say that I avoid dairy and eat as little gluten as possible and get most of my carbs from vegetables and DON’T COUNT COLD LATTES AS MEALS.
I am going to challenge myself to do this every freaking day for a month.
Because, by then, it should be a habit. One month. Think ahead, Jodi, not at the last minute when you are so hungry that you open your mouth to scream, but instead inhale-devour Wisconsin, along with Minnesota and the upper peninsula.
- After starting to crochet a hat that seemed rather toddler-sized due to my tight stitches, I contemplated a few other patterns, then eventually decided to do a project that I’d purchased yarn for last year: the Marte Crocodile-Stitch Hood. I am really enjoying it so far, but I’m only a few rows in, so… we’ll see. I often think that a pattern is too difficult for me, yet I get bored if I do something easy, so challenging is definitely the best option. I’m going to keep track of the project on Ravelry.
- For a few months, Kin has been napping on a book shelf. I eventually put a little afghan in there and it became a daily thing. Then, I thought that it would be cute if she lived on the second-story instead of the first. It took a few days for her to bite, but eventually… she did.
- I was inspired by this version of chicken and biscuits, which used sweet potato biscuits, and I just had to give it a try. [I made a similar stew from scratch instead of using the one suggested.] It was all so delicious. I can’t wait to give the biscuits a try on their own. They are beautiful and moist.
- We stopped at Straka Meats on Saturday to pick up some head cheese for my maternal grandmum. While there, we grabbed some landjaeger for ourselves.
- The first week that we had the hutch, Kin was tormented by a ghost kitty. At some point, she noticed her reflection in the glass and she was absolutely obsessed. Eventually, to ensure a few nights of rest, I covered the glass so that she couldn’t see herself. Now, all is well. She occasionally sees the ghost cat, but isn’t so alarmed and is certainly not obsessed.
- On the other hand, I am obsessed… with having a productive, balanced, and satisfying week. I love Mondays.
After last week’s pie competition, and my declaration in the newspaper, I knew that I had to try my hand at making some version of the dish. (I have a few in mind.)
Per usual, I didn’t jot down exactly what I used, but I think that I can replicate the amounts with some measure of precision.
Use any crust that you like, or this one from Martha Stewart. (It’s what I used.) Put it into a pie tin, work it into the bottom. Trim any extra and then finish the crust as you like. I folded mine under and pinched it together between my thumb and forefinger.
Combine about six cups of apples (I like McIntosh) with 1/4 – 1/2 cup of thinly-sliced, crispy bacon. (I use a little lemon juice to keep the apples from browning while I work with them. It’s up to you.) Stir in a mixture of 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Add this to the prepared pie crust.
Put on a baking sheet and into a preheated 375° F oven. Cook for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine 1 cup flour, 6 tablespoons cold butter, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor, pulsing until coarse. Keep in fridge until pie is ready.
Add crumb mixture to pie and put back in oven. (Note: You could alternately sprinkle about 1/2 cup of finely shredded Cheddar cheese over pie before adding crumb mixture, for a gooey inside.)
Cook pie for approximately 30 minutes or until bubbling. After cooling a bit, serve with shredded Cheddar cheese and crispy bacon bits.
On Thursday, I was invited to be a judge for the Sauk-Prairie Historical Society‘s annual pie contest. It was an honor to be asked but, more importantly, I was going to have the opportunity to taste a whole lot of pie. (And have serious fun while meeting a bunch of nice people.)
All of the pies were good, but what really put a skip in my step was an apple pie with a bacon and cheddar topping, called ABC pie. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I am going to get that recipe or, maybe, just attempt to replicate it. So savory.
And now, I shall humbly post photos onto the very public internet, taken by my sweet man with a phone camera, which include pictures of this very author making a variety of faces and, apparently, PIE-GANG signs. I swear, I was not revealing important pie judging information.
Small accomplishments and observations don’t seem to get their justice here lately. I tend to log the larger endeavors, but who raises a flag for the little things in this journal?
Not me lately.
Time has now passed, as have the mental lists of things that I wanted to get down here. Things like vegetables other than tomatoes, riding my bicycle twice a day, meeting more online friends offline (at around 20 now, I think), Polka Fest, my obsession with a few new-to-me cookbooks, so many different recipes, Gosford Park, learning embroidery, cleaning out lots of corners, and much wonderful mundane moments that add up to a happy whole.
Most importantly, I have learned to love summer.
Winter will always be my favorite season (and I will never be fond of sweaty undergarments), but I decided that life is too short to opt out of one-quarter of it. I don’t think that I complained about the heat or humidity at all. Maybe once. That said, I could have straightened my bangs more than once a day on some occasions, while I totally submitted to my hair on others. Each time that I felt uncomfortable, each time that I wanted to complain, I instead found gratitude. I learned to like the warmth of the sun, even when I’m already too warm.
(An aside: I watch THIS LITTLE VIDEO a lot.)
Also, it’s beginning to look a bit like autumn already, mid-August 2011. Little thing, I want to remember you.
Tomatoes have taken over my life, the eating of and/or producing them into preservable food is the pivotal point in all of my days right now.
And I only have nine tomato plants.
Everyone probably fears seeing me because I come bearing fruit. Tomatoes for both of my grandmas and tomatoes for friends (this one too, I hope, tomorrow).
Side note: I have probably thrown away five dozen Hungarian Hearts and three German Pinks due to blossom end rot. (I think the issue lies in the topsoil that we had trucked in for the newer beds, and probably a presence of ammonia, so they will be heavily fortified this autumn and spring.) I can’t imagine what in the heck I would have done with 63 more tomatoes.
This has become less like a household journal and more of a tomato blog.